Today I had the opportunity to see the exhibit Rito y Recuerdo: Day of the Dead, at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago. Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico are part of an ancestral indigenous tradition fusion with the Catholic tradition.
Throughout the Americas, the indigenous peoples have a special place in their hearts for Life, that is why they celebrate Death as a reminder of where we all come from and where we are going. It is also a reminder that all those tombs at any cemetery hold the remains of people that loved, and had dreams and ideas and they did their share touching many lives, and now they have left.
For their relatives they are very important people. Their children and grandchildren remember how they laughed, worked and enjoyed certain food, music or books, and how their lives are intertwined with their own present lives, dreams and hopes.
Are you afraid of death? Certainly people rather not talk about it. Probably its proximity makes one see how inadequate daily life is. How much time do we spend on things we accumulate, sometimes they are so many that we don’t even enjoy them, yet we dedicate more time to gathering them than being with others.
Of course thinking of death, its something that happens to others and when it knocks at our own door there is profound bewilderment. What are we doing? What is important? What a wonderful companion is Death! When it storms into your life it offers new perspectives on daily living, friends and above all love.
Having death near is like an awakening. It is so final and it poses so many questions!
The altars and installations at the museum showed glimpses of people that have left. Some were famous, others not so much, but every one of them was important because life is precious. Towards the end of the exhibit there is a big room dedicated to the 43 students that disappeared in Iguala, Mexico.
The 43 faces were a vivid demand of life over death. The world is watching and accompanying the grieving families who still do not know where their students are.
It is a somber day, not one of celebration because there is no closure, there is only impunity, pain and waiting. For a culture that honors death at this time of year, there is mounting anger and frustration, as the students have not been found. This year for many Mexicans there is too much pain. And they cannot grieve until there is justice.
The 43 faces will continue to appear everywhere, questioning society about what is happening. What can be so important in daily life that we choose to not see what is happening and how the arms market is as involved as the drug and money markets, rendering people captive due to their influence and disregard for the voices of the poor and disenfranchised.
We choose not to support life when we continue to ignore death in other places and since it is not at our doorstep, we don’t have to face it. Every day we are offered a choice to live abundantly, or to die slowly in mediocrity.
Are those 43 faces important? Are the people around you important? Will you choose death in order to remember to live fully?
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